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U.S. unveils insurance exchange framework

U.S. unveils insurance exchange framework
U.S. President Barack Obama, who proposed a framework for a healthcare insurance program exchange. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- The Obama administration Monday proposed a framework for a program to help U.S. states form their own exchanges for healthcare insurance.

The Department of Health and Human Services said the exchanges would assist individuals and businesses in getting the best deal possible for health plans beginning in 2014.

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"Exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power as big businesses and a choice of plans to fit their needs," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a written statement. "Insurance companies will compete for business on a transparent, level playing field and driving down costs."

The framework outlined Monday would provide states with guidance and best practices for setting rules, standards and basic functions for the exchanges. While setting some standards, states would have the flexibility to customize exchange plans to best fit their needs, HHS said.

The agency said virtually every state in the nation as well as Washington, D.C., and four territories had accepted federal grants to get their exchanges off the ground. Comments on the proposed framework will be accepted by HHS for 75 days.

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